A redundant Roman Catholic church building in New York is set to be brought back to life by a congregation of Coptic Christians.
Our Lady Of Peace, on the Upper East Side, was effectively closed in 2015. IThe existing congregation was merged with a nearby parish and, although some worshippers petitioned to keep the building open as a Roman Catholic church, it will host Coptic services from this Sunday.
Copts are the largest Christian minority in the Midde East and are mainly based I Egypt. They are vulnerable to persecution there and recent years have seen many violent attacks.
There are already Coptic churches in New York, but with a significant Egyptian population in the city, the new congregation will meet from this week.
It's even reported that the building could become a Coptic Cathedral. A letter from the Auxiliary Catholic Bishop to the existing parishoners said, 'Some months ago, Cardinal Dolan had the occasion to introduce the New York Egyptian Coptic Orthodox bishop, His Grace Bishop David, to the Holy Father, at which time they spoke about their dream to purchase Our Lady of Peace as their cathedral.'
The letter carries on, 'Pope Francis was delighted to learn that your parish, together with the archdiocese, was interested in assisting the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, in this way.' It also suggests that Coptic Pope Tawadros II has spoken with Pope Francis about the church, 'both popes have given their blessings,' it reads.